Hero MMORPG free play

(via Joystiq)

Not sure what to say about this one, so I’ll take the lazy method and steal Joystiq’s content tonight:

Martial arts-inspired MMORPG Hero Online has announced that an open beta will begin on June 30 and last for at least a month. For those of you tired of WoW and the others, this is a good chance to get your feet wet in something new. Since it seems there are so many new MMOs coming out, who knows if this thing will last. But hey, can’t argue with free, can you? For those not in the know, the game features the following:

  • Hero is created by martial art novelists.
  • Player characters learn many skills and forms.
  • Hero utilizes a reward system that keeps track of how many monsters a player kills from log in to log out.

Honestly, looking over the site and features, the game seems to be a bit slim in the content department. Has anyone here been playing the closed beta? If so, what are your impressions?

Come on, now! Who wouldn’t want to at least try a martial arts based MMORPG? This could end up the ultimate show of Real Ultimate Power!

That said – I’m signing up for the open beta, and will almost certainly try this game out when its final release comes.

[tags]MMORPG, Real Ultimate Power[/tags]

How a Fireworks Magician Tames Dynamite

Here’s a pretty cool old article at Modern Mechanix. I just hate that I didn’t see it in time to post for the July 4th holiday. It’s a Modern Mechanix magazine 1934 article about how fireworks speciailists deal with dynamite in a safe manner.

Flaming dynamite and exploding mortars are the chief tools of the fireworks expert. In this vivid, intimate story one of the aces of the fireworks army takes you behind the scenes to reveal, for the first time, the thrills and dangers of his roaring trade.

MILLIONS of Americans thrill yearly to the glittering wheels, flaming rockets and spectacular bombs of the giant fireworks displays; but the men who fire them are the men nobody knows—the world’s most mysterious showmen. . . .“One of the important things to keep in mind about fireworks,” said Briese, “is the difference between display work and the over-the-counter business—that is, the sale of firecrackers, pin wheels, rockets and the – like to the consumer. Accidents are far less frequent in display work because trained men do the firing.

“The noise-makers are the most dangerous pieces. In fact, a stick of dynamite is about the most hazardous unit we employ.

. . .

“The worst accidents in the fireworks business occur at the factories but they are rare now. Only small quantities of material are Handled at a time and most of the work is done in isolated sheds, spotted over a . wide area. These sheds are of flimsy construction. If an explosion does occur, the walls and roof give way, reducing the shock to any persons inside. The big display sets with all their sparks and fire may look hazardous but they are not as dangerous as the simple sticks of dynamite and the bombs. A big display may contain a ton of material but only 300 or 400 pounds of this may be explosive powder. Chemicals make up the balance of the material; and whereas they’ll burn, of course, they won’t explode violently.

. . .

How Displays Are Fired

“Shooters wear no special safety equipment, not even goggles.. The firing is done with a ‘port fire’ a five-foot flare made of two rocket sticks spliced together. It burns about five minutes and gives plenty of brilliant light so the operator can see the ‘match,’ or fuse, where the piece is set off. Sometimes part of the set doesn’t go off because of a broken connection. We keep watch for this and reach up with a port fire and start it going.

Fascinating. A very good, if somewhat lengthy, read on how fireworks shows are (or were in 1934 at least) put together.

[tags]Fireworks, Modern Mechanix, Dynamite[/tags]

Radical new technology: “Carryphone”

(via Modern Mechanix)

I’m not too sure I buy into the idea of a phone which you can carry with you. But the folks at Popular Science thought in 1947 that this was a good idea – at least good enough to get an article about it.

Engineers med_carryphone.jpgand trainmen can keep in constant touch with their own crews or talk with the crews of other trains with the “Carry -phone,” a portable telephone announced by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The device uses railroad tracks or wires as its communication channels, but transmits and receives messages through the air by induction, using a large metal loop.

So, what do you think?  Could people ever decide to carry around phones to help them keep in touch?

[tags]Carry-Phone, Modern Mechanix[/tags]

Hand-shadows (free) ebook

(via MAKE ezine blog)

Perfect for those of you with children of your own.  Here is a Project Gutenberg provided e-book (that means you can legally download it for free in the US and possibly elsewhere) to guide you on making shadow critters.  Originally published in 1859, the book was released for free by the Gutenberg project in 2004.  Along with a brief bit of text, the book is mostly a series of images showing the hand positioning and resulting shadow for a number of different critters/shadows.
Just an aside on the project – I notice that the uncompressed HTML file is 24K, but the zip compressed HTML file is 633K.

[tags]Shadows, Project Gutenberg[/tags]

Prey Limited Edition announced

(via Joystiq)
I missed this when it first came out, but I’ll post it anyway for any other folks who might have missed it as well.  3D Realms has announced the Limited Edition of Prey, now available for pre-order.  For a mere $10 above the standard edition, you get Prey on DVD, a shiney metal box, a book of artwork, and two (three for pre-orders) pewter figurines.

Prey is one of the few shooters I’m interested in trying.  I didn’t get into Half-Life all that much, and still haven’t tried Half-Life 2.  I have SiN episode 1 (it was $8 at Circuit City on Sunday – possibly all this week), but haven’t installed and tried it yet.  And I haven’t even wanted to play Doom 3 after trying it for 5 minutes on my brother’s system.  But Prey just sounds cool to me.  I may have to order this one.
[tags]Prey, Limited Edition gaming, DVD games[/tags]